Wannabe Prime Minister Nadhim Zahawi today declared Shinzo Abe dead when the Japanese authorities insisted he was fighting for his life.
The new Chancellor has been branded ‘hapless’ and ‘despicable’ for the blunder this morning as the former Japanese premier is in intensive care after being shot at a campaign rally.
Abe, 67, who is Japan’s longest-serving PM having held office twice from 2006 to 2007 and 2012 to 2020, was shot around 11.30am local time in the city of Nara – near Osaka in western Japan – while addressing a crowd outside the train station.
A shooter carrying what appeared to be a homemade firearm fired twice – missing the first time – before hitting Mr Abe in the back with the bullet exiting his chest.
Medics described him as having ‘no vital signs’, while medics said he was ‘in a state of cardiopulmonary arrest’ – a phrase commonly used in Japan when someone has died but doctors have not officially pronounced it.
At around 6am UK time Mr Zahawi tweeted: ‘Heartbreaking news from Japan. PM Shinzo Abe has died after being shot by an attacker. We enter politics to serve and try and make the world a better place, a good man has lost his life in pursuit of that noble aim. May he rest in eternal peace’.
But half an hour later Japanese PM Kishida said his predecessor remains in a critical condition at hospital and he hopes he will survive the assassination attempt.
Nadhim Zahawi, Chancellor of the Exchequer, attends the Spectator Summer Party 2022 in Westminster last night, speaking to Andrew Neil. Today he made a blunder over Shinzo Abe’s death
Mr Zahawi said he hoped Mr Abe will ‘rest in eternal peace’ – but the Japanese authorities and its new PM insisted he was still alive
Shinzo Abe, Japan’s former and longest-serving Prime Minister, is feared dead after he was shot in the chest while giving a campaign speech in the city of Nara today
Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, a veteran of Japan’s armed forces, was tackled by security (pictured) and then arrested on suspicion of attempted murder
And after that update, the current Prime Minister said: ‘Utterly appalled and saddened to hear about the despicable attack on Shinzo Abe. My thoughts are with his family and loved ones’ – but did not mention him passing away.
Suspected shooter Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, a military veteran, was tackled by security and arrested at the scene on suspicion of attempted murder – with police also confiscating what appeared to be a homemade firearm.
Witnesses reported hearing two shots while Abe was making a campaign speech ahead of Sunday’s election for the parliament’s upper house. He then collapsed holding his chest, with his shirt smeared with blood.
Fumio Kishida, the current prime minister of Japan, called the shooting ‘absolutely unforgivable’ and said he is ‘praying’ that Abe survives.
It was a stunning development in a country with famously low levels of violent crime and tough gun laws, involving Japan’s best-known politician.
Abe – who served in office from 2006 to 2007 and then 2012 to 2020 – was giving a speech on behalf of his Liberal Party in the city of Nara ahead of parliamentary elections before he was shot (pictured)
Yamagami approached Abe from behind and then fired two shots, according to witnesses, who said the former Prime Minister collapsed after the second shot
Abe, 67, was giving a speech outside Nara train station ahead of upcoming parliamentary elections when the suspected shooter approached from behind, pulled out a homemade weapon, and opened fire
‘Former prime minister Abe was shot at around 11:30 am,’ in the country’s western region of Nara, chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told reporters.
‘One man, believed to be the shooter, has been taken into custody. The condition of former prime minister Abe is currently unknown.
‘Whatever the reason, such a barbaric act can never be tolerated, and we strongly condemn it,’ Matsuno added.
The suspected gunman, who was tackled at the scene and arrested, is a former soldier who was in the Japanese self-defense forces and appears to have built the improvised weapon used in the shooting, Radio 4 reported.
Several Ministry of Defense officials confirmed that Yamagami had been working for the Maritime Self-Defense Force for three years until around 2005.
It was reported that Abe had his security team around him during the speech on Friday, but the attacker was able to pull this gun out and shoot him at close range ‘without being checked.’
The former leader had been delivering a stump speech at an event ahead of Sunday’s upper house elections when the sound of gunshots was heard, NHK and the Kyodo news agency said.